All Saints-by-the-Sea Reopens
After an extensive 2.5-year remodel project coupled with a complete shutdown due to the COVID pandemic, All Saints-by-the-Sea Church in Montecito reopened last weekend, welcoming dozens of parishioners eager to reconnect with one another.
“It was a true homecoming,” said Reverend Aimee Eyer-Delevett.
In 2012, engineering consultants advised leadership that the church’s iconic bell tower would not survive a significant earthquake, and that the oldest section of the sanctuary had significant foundation issues. The rebuilding of the 121-year-old tower was granted an emergency permit in 2016, and crews painstakingly removed and numbered each stone to be able to replace it in the same location after installing multiple concrete and steel caissons to anchor the tower. Eyer-Delevett tells us that 97% of the original stones were re-used.
Construction on a larger remodel project began in April 2019, and included seismically strengthening the Sanctuary; adding a new foundation under the western half of the Sanctuary; making the altar and choir areas accessible to all parishioners, including those with mobility challenges; replacing the failing pipe organ with a world class digital organ; improving lighting and acoustics; building a Memorial Chapel with columbarium niches and memorial plaques; refurbishing, cleaning, and restoring the pews and the stained glass windows; and bolstering the church’s financial reserves to maintain the facilities.
Eyer-Delevett explained that prior to her arrival at All Saints, the church had endeavored to create a columbarium for over two decades.
“The congregation had long desired to have a columbarium where we can lay our beloved departed’s ashes to rest, but faced neighborhood opposition,” Eyer-Delevett said.
Neighbors agreed to the facility once it was decided that the columbarium would be fully contained within the Sanctuary building, only open during business hours, and available only for parishioners and their family members for interment.
“People live out the whole of their lives in church. They are often baptized as babies; they are nourished week in and week out through worship and sacrament; their marriages are blessed in church. To be able to also provide a place within our Sanctuary where Christians can be laid in their final resting place completes the story,” she said.
The project also served to remodel the building so that every entrance is accessible by wheelchair, a lift was installed at the Chancel to ensure all parishioners can access the altar, and technology was improved so that the hearing impaired are able to hear the service.
“The building now reflects the spirit and intention that all are welcome. Spiritually, emotionally, and physically, everyone in this community is welcome to All Saints,” she said.
The total project cost approximately $11.1 million, which was raised by 250 families and friends of All Saints.
“A project like this can only happen when a group of people come together to make what seems impossible, possible. Now we can serve the people for the next 120 years,” Eyer-Delevett said.
General contractors on the project included R.J. Spann on the Bell Tower and Armstrong Associations on the Sanctuary. The architect was Montecito’s Bob Easton. Jeff Conway consulted on the Capital Campaign.
For more information, visit www.allsaintsbythesea.org/sanctuary-preservation. All Saints-by-the-Sea is located at 83 Eucalyptus Lane in Montecito.